New ESA Boss, a Gamer, Plans to Flex Industry’s Political Muscle

Mike Gallagher has been something of a mystery man – until now.

With his first E3 looming, the new ESA president gives a revealing interview to Seth Schiesel of the NY Times. Most notably, Gallagher professes to being a gamer, something his predecessor, Doug Lowenstein, was most certainly not.

Gallagher spoke of getting started as a lad with Pong and progressing to more grownup fare:

In the 1990s, as chief of staff for Representative Rick White, a Washington State Republican, Mr. Gallagher helped network the office computers to play Doom, the seminal first-person shooter game.

“I was the chief of staff, so it was my prerogative to be the office champion,” he said.

Gallagher also mentioned playing Zelda with his children on the SNES:

“So it’s 1995 and I’m working on Capitol Hill,” he recounted. “My kids are 5, 3 and 1, and we did the Zelda game for the Super Nintendo, and I really saw how games could be a catalyst in the home because my 3-year-old son is sitting in the middle with the girls on both sides, and he had the manual dexterity to run the controls, but he couldn’t read yet.”

“But my 5-year-old could,” he added. “So my daughter would read the screen to my son, and my 1-year-old is sitting watching this masterful production being put on by her brother and sister.”

Of the game industry’s political troubles, Gallagher said:

I think there is a bit of a generation gap, federally, given that a number of the legislators — especially since Congress operates on the seniority system — are older. Video games came very late in their content-consuming careers, and so they’re not as familiar with the intense innovation, competition and excitement that come from video games.

Gallagher also touted Manhunt 2’s Adults Only (AO) rating as an example of the industry’s ability to self-regulate:

Mr. Gallagher defends the industry’s record on regulating and monitoring itself. He noted, for example, that the [ESRB] which operates independently from the [ESA], recently effectively banned the violent game Manhunt 2.

He also vowed that the ESA would begin to play the political contributions game:

The main challenge is connecting with decision makers and creating champions for the video-game industry in the policy-making arena. So working to set up a way for the [ESA] to participate in the federal election process is one of my top priorities. Contributing on the federal level is a very important part of our success going forward.

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  1. 0
    Neebs says:

    If that’s not proof the banning was all politics, what is? The industry is eating itself from the inside, trying to prove itself, with T2 the victim.

  2. 0
    Fedule ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    All good, except I don’t like that he’s behind the whole mAOnhunt thing. But with the exception of this one game that has been chosen to have an example made of it, it sounds like this guy’s what we need.

  3. 0
    ZippyDSMlee ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    From breaking my knee from jerking it I relooked at the issue,the ESRB dose 2 things keeps the industry family friendly by setting standards/rating levels and enforcing rules on first and 2nd tier game trailers,they rate games while at the same time nudging the industry to a place where its least scary to the common folk/sheeple and polis.

    It comes down to manhunt 2 decision being right but the over all mentality over adult gaming being wrong,the industry is still evolving and should grow AO like the MPAA did X,is it great is it filled with forethought by looking at the past…no it is what it is a slow evolution to correctly protect kids from bad content.

    BTW Nin and sony should step off and let AO live on their systems stupid PR branding protection games make me sick,retail has shown its more than willing to do the burnt of the work,the ESRB needs to do a re do on AO and make a NC17 level because GOW both of them are nearing if not past its minimum.

  4. 0
    Marlowe says:

    Yeah you probably won’t find someone in the ESA or ESRB who will openly say they had a problem with the Manhunt 2 incident. Regardless of how violent the game may have been it was an essentially political move, after congress grilled Vance on why the ESRB rarely gives out an AO rating they wanted to come back and say “Hey look at us we’re drawing the line somewhere, you don’t need to ban games we’ll do that for you! And hey, it just so happens that the same maker of this game made the dreaded GTA games with all their hot coffee debauchery.” Other than that, mad props for his Link to the Past nod.

  5. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    “Mr. Gallagher defends the industry’s record on regulating and monitoring itself. He noted, for example, that the [ESRB] which operates independently from the [ESA], recently effectively banned the violent game Manhunt 2.”

    That was the interviewer rewording Gallagher’s words. I doubt that he would say those exact words. So don’t hate him for a reporter taking poetic liscence.

    I liked the article and hope to find out more about what he plans to do for us.

  6. 0
    GamerDad says:

    I hope this means the ESA will become more pro-active than reactive.
    (And of course the ESA president is going to back the actions of the ESRB – a united front is crucial even if it might look bad.)

  7. 0
    Phantom says:

    If that’s not proof the banning was all politics, what is? The industry is eating itself from the inside, trying to prove itself, with T2 the victim.

    Considering that T2 has a track record of creating controversies and leaving the ESA and ESRB to deal with the fallout, I don’t necessarily see this as a problem.

  8. 0
    V-22 Osprey says:

    I like the part whe he said as chief of staff it was his prerogative to be the office champion. “I have to play Doom for hours- it’s part of building a better working enviroment for my coworkers.”

  9. 0
    Conejo says:

    1) everyone should start with Pong.

    2) i still don’t see what is wrong with Manhunt 2 being rated AO. despite where the motivation may or may not have come from, WHY is it wrong for the ESRB to have decided on this rating?

    why is it wrong for them to draw a line somewhere on exactly how much violence and gore can constitute too much to label it an M game?

  10. 0
    DragonBomber ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Just wait about ten or twenty years when the president and vice president of the US turn out to both be rabid gamers. Gamers who were socialized by games are creeping into all walks of life, proving that the experience isn’t too destructive. Classic gamers have been around for years in all walks of life, and pinball junkies naturally, but they were not as indoctrinated in the gaming culture due to a lack of the Internet to fan the fire. It’s funny really. We trust our lives with doctors and dentists who spent (spend) hours of their lives with videogames and somehow it still isn’t good enough for the rest of us.

  11. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    The game industry sucks and video games rock. I hope the ESA and the ESRB begins to fail and to crumble. If they refuse to admit there is something wrong with the rating system and stand by the censorship of games then I think they need to go. Here is one gamer who proudly raises his middle finger and points it directly at the ESA and the ESRB. They are, in my opinion, part of the problem and need to be replaced by someone who wishes to stand up against censorship in games not advocate it.

    What happens when gamers and game developers begin speaking out against their trust in the ESRB? I don’t think its going to be pretty and I really don’t care because the ESRB doesn’t listen to gamers and it should. I’ll never have any trust that the current ESRB rating system works. I won’t care if I’m the only one willing to speak against it, even though I know for a fact I’m not. I don’t care if the IGDA and the ECA both stand up for the ESRB, I refuse to until thier rating system changes.

    Again, until things change I’ll never give the ESA or the ESRB an ounce of support. I expected more from the game industry. Is it really going to be up to indie game developers to bring about change? T2 seems to the the only company willing to push the limits and bring controversy to the table.

  12. 0
    Nekojin ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Conejo: “why is it wrong for them to draw a line somewhere on exactly how much violence and gore can constitute too much to label it an M game?”

    If there were reasonably straight, even, and clear lines for the divides between ratings, there probably wouldn’t be half as much hubbub over the rating. But as it is, the dividing lines – most notably and importantly, the lines between T and M, and between M and AO – are not consistent. There are demonstrable cases where Game A has much the same sort of content as Game B, but one gets a T and one gets an M. Similarly, industry professionals have complained about submitting games that they feel that they’ve made within the known boundaries of T, and still come away with an M.

    Similarly, although the ESRB ratings are often compared to the MPAA ratings, there isn’t an even parallel between them – the Saw and Hostel franchises, which are by all accounts comparable in content to Manhunt 2, both received R ratings, which [i]should[/i] be the equivalent of the M rating – and yet, the violence was just too much for it to be an M.

  13. 0
    DragonBomber ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    It’s not wrong that they make a rating and stand behind it. What is in question is the level of affect that government and peanut gallery members may have had in the decision. There are several questions left unanswered though that must be addressed.

    1) Why the control factor is only now being brought up by Patricia Vance of the ESRB as one of the deciding factors in how games have always been rated despite the lack of any data to that affect in the literature they pass out for parents and others?

    2) Why are videogames that fall under the “public outcry” radar somehow immune to receiving an equally harsh rating for similar content? Read the ratings on the ESRB and tell me how one determines “prolonged violence” to constitute an AO rating. This isn’t a digital scale, but an ambiguous analog meter that can be abused by both sides of the content war.

    3) How is the ESRB and other organizations going to combat the “separate and unequal” status videogames receive by their rating boards and society in general compared to other media forms? The “immersion” nature of games cannot be held as the sole biased towards forms of media receiving artistic rights in the courts without sufficient academic and scientific study to back such a single branch up.

    4) If you (Nintendo) tell a wolf (Rockstar) to come indoors to play, how can you not expect to be bitten (AO rating) at some point? Sleight of hand, double talking, and politics aside, was it really possible to manage a M rating on the Wii given the land-mined-landscape of the moment?

  14. 0
    DragonBomber ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @Terrible Tom & Nekojin:

    Blessed be. I agree and am glad someone else will mention some of those points besides myself in reply.

  15. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    ESRB, Console Manufaturers and Retailers advocate censorship. Console Manufacturers and Retailers I beleive are in the right by censoring what product they want to offer on their consoles or in their stores. I don’t agree with it but its their right. HOWEVER, the ESRB advocates censorship and their purpose is to rate games so we know what games to buy. Now when many gamers decide that their rating system isn’t working very well for them its time for a change. I’m a vicious enemy of the ESRB because I’m a vicious enemy of any form of censorship. You can claim its not censorship all you want but they are putting extreme violence in together with extreme sexual content.

  16. 0
    ChrowX ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    If no one has thought of this yet… The AO ban on Manhut 2 is a good thing. the game caught so much flak before even being released for being the goriest most violent game ever in existence (even though it wasn’t)

    Even if the game was bloodless, stupid watchdog groups and uppity politicians still would’ve jumped in saying that it’s a menace to society, blah blah blah, the children, marketing, etc, etc…

    Look at it this way, this AO rating means that Rockstar has to take the game back, change a few things, then the ESRB says, “Okay, it’s M now. Which still means that no child or person under the age of 18 should be playing it. If that does occur, it is not our fault.” Thent he game is released, Rockstar and T2 got several months of hype, and the game sells well.

    It’s not beyond the ESRB to say that a game is very violent, that’s their job. As for everyone else to ban the game before it’s release, that’s the serious problem. Unfortunately, it’s a double standard, and movies like Hostel are not yet banned, though they depict things that are likely much worse than Manhunt2

  17. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    If extremely violent games can be givin the same rating as a pornographic game then yes… they are grouping them together.

  18. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    Its their system that advocates censorship by grouping pornographic games with extremely violent games, yes they are advocating censorship.

  19. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Tom

    They are no grouping them as pornographic. It is not thier fault that the majority of games developed and rated as AO were porn games. They did not hold a gun to the developers heads and force them to make porn games.

    AO is for any content that is inapropriate for any one under 18. They are not advocating censorship. They are doing their job and letting everyone else do what they want with the information.

  20. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    ITS NOT A GOOD THING. Who cares about watch dog companies or politicians. We can take them, we have the first ammendment. Stop letting fear of politicians and watch dog groups control you.

  21. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    My reason for not dropping a name is the fact I respect these individuals and I dont want to bring them into my personal arguements.

  22. 0
    VaMinion says:


    For me, personally, there is no reason whatsoever to allow players to allow the player to maim, burn alive, dismember, do anything pedophile-ish, or otherwise torment a kid in a game. If it’s a villain doing it, I find it distasteful but acceptable depending on how graphic it is.

    But, hey, if you want to convince me that I should be willing to play games like that, feel free to toss out some specifics aside from “I’m going to make a game that proves it can be okay, in a sense”.

  23. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    Well say the Child “loosely represented” an evil, an evil the majority of us have a problem with. The evil “loosely represented” in the game would be a lawyer in the form of a baby. So the baby would be a villian and you could choose to allow it to do evil things or you could torture it and/or kill it. Its really vauge but its just going to really be a mini-game. Just trying to make a little nugget of fun for those who are tired of hearing anti-game actvist try to ruin everything. Its nothing your going to play for hours, maybe a few minutes at the most. But it is a game non-the less and if the minigame was included in a larger game it would be rated AO probably because well the villian is a little baby.

  24. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    They can see it as a dodge if they wish, I value the relationships with people I know personally more than someone doubting the truth of my words online.

  25. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    Alright then I guess my game would be acceptable by your standards, however Its a political game so i mean its not realistic or anything its just making a statement.

  26. 0
    DeusPayne ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I know this guy, he has his hand in every game ever made, ever. He says that Terrible Tom is a pedophile. I’m not going to say who told me that, it’d be disrespectful to them. But I assure you, he likes the kidsechs.

  27. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Tom

    Back to this:

    “I’m at least one designer and I state publically that if I were to release a game into the market it would be disserviced by the ESRB. even though currently I can only make indie games.”

    If you did that, you would immediately be discredited because you did so with malitious purposes.

    I am talking about developers who honestly sought an appropriete rating and recieved a rating that could be proven to be unfair.

  28. 0
    DeusPayne ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    He’s clearly a troll that has posted nothing of substance as of yet. All his arguments have ended with every online trick other than actual evidence. Plus, it’s not like this Terrible Tom has any sense of personal identity, and is basking in being able to hide behind the anonymity of the internet.

    Plus, it’s a fucking joke, get over it.

  29. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    Deus Payne-

    Have you posted anything of substance yet? Not that I’ve ever read. Your just angry because you don’t agree with me. Thats fine dont agree with me but I’m no more of a troll than you are.

    E. Zachary Knight-

    Yes I know what your talking about and yes I do.

  30. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    Yea I agree you can petition sony and nintendo, you can complain about the retailers but I also think you can also say you don’t agree with not only the ratings the ESRB goes by but the process in which they rate the games.

  31. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    ::suggests we take this discussion into the GP forums::

    That way the GP readers that arn’t part of the forums won’t have to sift through 100 messages

  32. 0
    Konstruct says:


    Would you prefer the government to institute their own policies and watch dog group? The ESRB is one of the few things holding that back. Last thing I want is an FCC like bureau to have full reign over content of games. Freedom of speech is an illusion, you either have to prove you’re doing it better than they can or you’re at the mercy of every politician trying to garner votes from the conservative house wives who have lost their children to the videogame demon.

    The ESRB has been doing this for a long long time. Why are you people crying about them just now? They aren’t a fake organization to keep the politicians off of the industry’s ass. They actually do rate games. If you want to play manhunt 2 petition sony and nintendo to allow AO games.

  33. 0
    DeusPayne ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Whatever, if you can’t stand a joke, you shouldn’t be posting online. Plus, would you have been less offended if I said you were a veal eater, or a pennyless bum, or a drug trafficker? You’re advocating that there is a less strict form of rating on a private industry that is a for profit business model. Yet, on a free forum, with no registration you bitch about a joke, be it a tasteless one. Everyone interprets a situation with a different level of morals and what is acceptable and not. If this isn’t a clear example of the fact that a line needs to be drawn somewhere, I don’t know what is. While you may find killing or sexual content separate topics, many don’t. While you may find certain levels of violence in a game acceptable, many don’t.

    Now, I’m not saying you’re wrong, as I’m a HUGE fan of free speech (as evident by my off taste joke). But, in a situation where the government is already hovering over the industry with very watchful eyes, banning, or effectively banning a game that is clearly pushing the envelope of allowed violence is not all bad. The industry needs to self regulate itself, which it has done. Whether or not it was politically motivated is an issue, but the end result currently is that there is a system in place, and it does work (for the most part). Won’t argue that it works 100%, but you have to give in a few minor battles that aren’t really worth it in the first place, so that you don’t get a huge fuckstick up the ass from the government. Think about what kind of backlash there would be next month if they had given it an M rating, and then parent groups and whatnot went apeshit. Would it be worth the money? Would it be worth the lawsuits? ESPECIALLY when it’s T2 and R* who are notorious for throwing shit into the ring, and having the ESA and ESRB fight it out.

  34. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    Congrats on the anniversary.

    They have multiple panels, a panel has to match individual votes. So if one person thinks it should be rated AO and the rest M then it doesn’t pass that panel. If one panel fails to match all votes they move onto another panel.

    Trouble is every day people seem to think that games are for children and you should protect them from certain things, which is the reason why I think game ratings are more strict than say movie ratings. Maybe they do realize that games are also for adults but they certainly seems like they are very strict.

  35. 0
    CyborgPolk says:

    True, E. Zachary Knight, but I do think gamers can be used in the process. I’m talking about the ESRB having it’s own testing group to find out any hidden content that developer might have overlooked (i.e., Hot Coffee and Oblivion) that might need consideration in the rating process. The testers will not rate, just inform the raters.

    I just thought of this, so I ask you if there is any flaw with that.

  36. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    How do you suggest they rate the games (process wise)? They cannot play the game. So how?

    There are two reasons they do not play the games:

    1. Games take too long to play and would require days upon weeks to find all possible content.

    2. It requires that the reviewers be gamers, which contradicts what they are trying to do. They have every day people reviewing videos of game footage who can make informed descisions over what is acceptable. They do not choose gamers, because gamers have an investment of sorts in the industry and that opens things up to all new heights. They want to stay independant from the game industry in all ways.

  37. 0
    Konstruct says:


    Hiring costs a lot of money and the time it takes to play through games can vary from 4 hours to 1000+. Its hard to accurately rate games like WoW due to time restrictions and the sheer amount of content. Also some games are very hard and would take time simply for the reason of difficulty. Devil May Cry 3 and Ninja Gaiden would fall in that. Money and time prevents this from really ever becoming a reality.

  38. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    Its fine man, I wasn’t as worked up as you are now.

    Would it be worth the lawsuits? Yes. Thats their job, let them fight it out. I mean isn’t it kind of why they are there?

  39. 0
    CyborgPolk says:

    I meant that the ESRB have testers during the actual testing process of the game (not the rating one). Then, the people will report to the ESRB panels.

  40. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The difficulty factor is another issue.

    If the rater cannot even get passed the first level, they are not even seeing the whole game. Then you ahve to have a gamer play the game. This may not sound bad at first, but a gamer would be more likely to get side tracked within the game and not catch everything.

    Additionally, if word got out about who these gamer/reviewers were then there could be some bribing going on. A little incentive from te developer. 😉

  41. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    If the ESA and the ESRB are tired of fighting the battles for companies such as Rockstar then maybe we should be concerned with replacing them with people who are willing to fight.

  42. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    Its hard to say they are defending them when they give them unfair ratings.(kind of like they did with thrill kill)

  43. 0
    CyborgPolk says:

    I was just spitting something out. I was unaware of that, Knight.

    Also, testing isn’t really a playthrough.

    Either way, I’ll resign my sugestion.

  44. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    the ESA and ESRB have no problem fighting the battles for developers. They have problems with the developers not fessing up when problems about their games. They also have problems with developers giving no support for the battle.

    Personally, I think that if the developer does not have the balls to defend themselves, they should not expect others to defend them.

  45. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    They do have random play throughs after a games release. It is kind of a policing tactic. They choose a couple of games at random each month, play them for a while and make sure that they meet the rating. But the playthroughs are in no way enough to rate a game.

  46. 0
    Ace of Sevens ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Does anyone have a reference on Bioshock being theatened with an AO? I’ve heard it lots of times, but never outside these boards.

    As far as movies, Saw Hostel did get the same rating as movies like Color of Night, Basic Instinct and Mullholland Dr, which got their ratings for sexual content. Granted, it’s not as high a rating, but the MPAA isn’t separating out violence and sex either. They don’t have NC-17 and X. NC-17 replaced X, which was never exactly a real rating to begin with.

  47. 0
    DeusPayne ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    X rated movies were, and still are recognized by the MPAA. It just isn’t trademarked, so it became a problem with anyone (mostly porn peddlers) slapping the X rating on unrated movies, which eventually led to the X rated stigma that exists today. NC17 was created for the sole purpose of that it was a replacement for X, but registered so that the MPAA could regulate what movies had it and which didn’t.

  48. 0
    DeusPayne ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Not worked up. You said I didn’t post anything substantial or informative. So I wrote up a fairly thought out (at least for my usual rants) that explains my views. It’s funny, because I mostly support you, it’s just your argument style, and ideas of replacements. EZ Knight hit it on the nail with developers not willing to defend. IMO, the ESA should be there to support the developers, not fight the battles for them. They can offer monetary support, legal support, etc. But the problem is that R* just pushes the envelope of violence in order to propel the industry forward. I love that they’re doing that, but they should follow through with it, and not pawn it off on a non-profit (am I correct that ESA is non-profit?) organization.

    Someone said it before that the big problem isn’t the ratings, but the systems. While it is within their rights to not allow AO games, it kinda defeats the purpose of the rating system in the first place. M is R, and AO is X. There’s a certain stigma related to it that console developers don’t like associated with their system. If they either weren’t so taken aback by said stigma, or if they created an acceptable rating that’s suitable for adults only, that would suffice.

    It’s not a question of whether or not what the ESRB is doing is completely right, it is whether it is acceptable or not. And as I said, with a government hovering by, I don’t mind losing what looks to be a few controversial games in exchange for keeping the government of our backs for a while more. Remember, this is a waiting game. As D-toid says, we just need to wait until all the old people die, and there’s no more ignorance politicians trying to push their morals on the video game industry. If we push too far, they might eventually push back harder, and take away rights with bans, prohibitions, censorings, etc. However, if we at least keep them at bay whenever they attack, and not go too far on the offense, things can at least hopefully not get any worse. Choose your battles. Changing the ESRB over a few upset people (gamers and developers alike) is a step in the wrong direction until the government is more gamer friendly.

  49. 0
    Scrubking says:

    @ Zachary Knight

    Manhunt 2 does have a sex scene that is portrayed on a TV while you kill people in a room. This is confirmed in one of the many previews. There may be more since there is a sex club level.

    I’m sure this had a lot to do with the AO rating since the ESRB has shown its intolerance towards any type of sex in a game. Speaking of which the M rating has provisions for “strong sexual content” which by most definitions is two naked people havings sex. Hot Coffee had two clothed people having sex.

    I don’t think violence plays that big a factor here since the first Manhunt already set a precedent that snuff film type killing is A-okay. There isn’t that much difference between disemboweling a guy with a chainsaw and watching his guts spill on the floor and ripping a guys nuts off with a pair of pliers.

    No matter how you cut it, the ESRB didn’t like something in the game and decided to ban it with the AO rating. Something that is totally unacceptable and needs to be addressed by Nintendo, Walmart, the ESRB, gamers and everyone in between.

  50. 0
    Ace of Sevens ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The ESRb didn’t decide to ban. They decided to gve it an AO rating. Judging by the actions of of other ratings boards, this was probably fair. If you have issue with this being a defacto ban, you need to take it up with Sony, Nintendo and major retailrs. It isn’t the ESRB’s fault in any way. Taking into account the effect of a rating would being lettign political factors way too much latitude and completely destroy the system’s credibility.

  51. 0
    Archgabe ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    I see alot of “Nintendo is violating free speech” stuff and that they should release Manhunt 2. Sorry to say this but the ONLY thing the First Amendment stops is the government (and all of it’s public institutions) from passing laws to prohibit free speech. Nintendo, SONY and Microsoft and all the retailers have a right to do what they want in their stores/consoles. If they don’t want to then they dont have to.

    If Take Two really, really wanted to release the game as AO they could open their own store and release their own console and release their own game on it. There is nothing that can stop them from doing so. I know they won’t, but there is nothing that can legaly stop them from taking that option. There is nothing that can legaly force any company to release Manhunt 2 if they don’t want to either. It is self-censorship but it is under a private company. It is just like you can’t force me to curse, but you sure as fucking hell can’t stop me from doing it either.

  52. 0
    Marlowe says:

    I’ve been agreeing with you for the most part, I do not believe that it was in any way a “good” thing for the ESRB effectively ban Manhunt 2 (Gallagher, or the reporter’s, words not mine.) However, I do not see why you feel there should be a separate rating for pornographic games, such a thing does not exist in the movie industry (X isn’t an MPAA rating anymore it’s just a designation that movies traditionally gave themselves to say they didn’t bother going through the MPAA’s rating system and it later became associated with pornography, and NC-17 does not simply cover porn or even sexually explicit movies although most NC-17 movies are sexually explicit, in fact, there are very few NC-17 movies that can even be called pornography as most porn movies don’t want to spend the time or money having the MPAA rate something when they’re already pretty sure of its rating) and frankly why should it matter if there’s inappropriate sexuality or inappropriate violence for a minor to view? It’s both inappropriate. I would also like to ask, should this porn designation also cover gratuitous sexuality but presented in a more tasteful way that’s plot-dependant and not just there for the sake of itself? Further, should there be a separate rating for a game which is gratuitously violent but the violence serves a purpose for either storyline or as an homage of some type (say the gaming equivalent of “Reservoir Dogs”) vs. a game which is violent for the sake of it (the so-called “torture porn” e.g. the gaming equivalent of “Hostel.”) The ESRB’s job is to decide upon who is old enough to play a game, not the artistic merits of said game, if that was the case then we shouldn’t just have a “porn game” rating we should have a “This game sucks, and if you buy it you will be wasting 50 bucks that could have better went to a good game or feeding starving children” rating.

  53. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    I want to make it clear that I’m not against porn games at all. I think porn games should be cut some slack by retailers and console systems. Yea just about everyone disagrees with me on that but I think it should be availbe on consoles and in stores, its just my opinion. I do have a problem with grouping together porn and extreme violence. Not in a sense that they are in the same product(thats fine in my book). Its unfair not only unfair to those who wish to make a pornographic game and it is also unfair for those who wish to base their story around extreme violence. Yea they are in charge of setting an age limit but I think their rating system plays into this “self-regulation” garbage that the industry keeps spitting out. Basically what they are saying is there is no need to censor video games because we are doing it already. It is upsetting. It is not responsible they are just doing this to try to keep watch dog organizations and pricks like Jack Thompson off their back. Which isn’t going to work they are going to relentlessly attack the game industry reguardless of how strictly it “regulates” itself. I always hear about how loyal the game industry is to their own, and from what I’m seeing from how the AO rating pretty much plays into censorship so easily and commonly(yes it is a common thing) I have no other option but to say that the loyalty claims are a load of shit. The game industry is to blame for much of it, not only from the ESRB but also from Sony, Nintendo M$ and also video game retailers. Loyal my ass. If the game industry was so god damn loyal to their own they would provide a stronger opposition to the watch dog organizations, looneys like Jack Thompson and LaRouche Minions, and also to all politicians which try to win votes by demonizing an industry. But instead right now they are just trying to appease them by saying hey look, we are going to rate this AO so the developer has to water it down to make it more acceptable. Look we are looking after children and are responsible because we are forcing this company to censor themselves. Fuck that shit if your going to group everything together just drop AO and raise M to 18+ and let Sony, M$, Nintendo and video game retailers decide which games they want on their consoles and which games they want in their stores. Don’t forget the biggest part of the game industry are the GAMERS. Without gamers Sony, Nintendo and M$ wouldn’t be making shit off video games and either would retailers. And the same to the ESRB, without gamers you guys wouldn’t have a job. The ENTIRETY of the game industry owes EVERYTHING to gamers. Stop kissing eachothers asses and sucking up to those who oppose you and start standing up for gamers and game developers because without them Sony, M$, Nintendo and retailers wouldn’t be making the billions of dollars they are.

  54. 0
    Silver_Derstin says:

    @Terrible Tom

    I never liked the ESRB. Their rating system is flawed to the core because it has too few ratings (Nothing between T and M, as an example), uses all sorts of “content descriptors” that are mostly inaccurate and misrated more games then I can think.

    But did they misrate Manhunt 2, promoting VILE CENSORSHIP? Most likely not. They took their guidelines and checked off the things until it reached the AO rating. Probably with plenty to spare. They’re not censoring anything, they’re doing their job. Nintendo, Microsoft and Sony never allowed AO games on their consoles. And this is a known fact ever since… oh… when the NES came out? So why haven’t you and all the “FREEDOM OF SPEECH” activists rallied before Manhunt 2 was released? And Wal*Mart doesn’t even hold M games in Quebec, so it’s no wonder they wouldn’t hold a Adult-Only game, but why haven’t you cried tears of blood over this BEFORE.

    The First Amendment doesn’t protect anyone, sorry to tell you this. First Amendment, freedom of speech and all that shiznit doesn’t stop ANYTHING. The media, the governement and the Illuminati/Seven Wise Men/Knight Templars will always control the information and tell you what to know and what to not know. Face it, all you know is what they want you to know.

  55. 0
    cppcrusader ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Now I’m definitely starting to think we can get behind this guy. I had a good feeling about him initially since he used to work on Capitol Hill, we really needed somebody who knows how to play their game. Plus I always thought it was odd that one of the people supposedly running the industry wasn’t much of a gamer.


    The MPAA didn’t grow the X rating so much as shoved it to the side and came up with the NC-17. NC-17 is more or less the same as X, it might be a light notch under, but it doesn’t have the stigma of and X rating.

    That’s exactly what the ESRB needs to do. They need to come up with a new rating that doesn’t have the same stigma of AO.

  56. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:


    Just because the first amendment doesn’t actually protect anyone doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to be protected by it. If everyone in histories past were to have the roll over and die mentality you do we wouldn’t even beable to speak out against those who govern us. I’d definately be dead by now.

    I will always fight against the media and the government. I realize they wont ever give me the protection the first admendment should grand me. But that WILL NEVER prevent me from trying using it. They can sue me, throw me in a cage or kill me but they will never bring me down to a point where I think the best option is to bend over and be happy they arn’t as well endowed as others.

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    DarkSaber2k says:

    I like the part whe he said as chief of staff it was his prerogative to be the office champion. “I have to play Doom for hours- it’s part of building a better working enviroment for my coworkers.”

    I laughed at this. Would this be the same Doom that was ‘responsible’ for Columbine?

  58. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    Mike Gallagher-

    When will you admit that the ESRB’s rating system is flawed and when will you pressure them to fix it?

  59. 0
    ZeRu ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    He’s definitely a figure of promise, future and hope. I’m glad to see that he’s mentioning Jack Valenti as his rolemodel – that’s the best way to lobby for games without offending any politicians (and even better, every politician will then know that JT is nothing more than a clown). I just hope he’ll be a man of deeds, not just words. He desevers full support.

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    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    E. Zachary Knight-

    By your ideals the MPAA would group movies like Hostle and Saw together with the porn industry.

  61. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Tom

    Movies get NC-17 for violence as well. It is not just for porn.

    If anything is innappropriate for people under 18 it will recieve NC-17 or AO. These ratings were never meant for just porn.

    Just because the vast majority of stuff that was rated that was porn, that does not make it a rating meaning porn.

    AO != porn. Get over it.

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    Pixelantes Anonymous ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Just before everyone goes on and hugs the guy, let’s remember, again, that ESA represents the industry.

    They might be on “our side” on game censorship/legislation issues (as long as it doesn’t hurt sales…Manhunt 2 anyone?), but ESA is in the opposing side on many other issues most notably on modding game consoles.

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    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    I wont get over it, I’ll fight it until I find it acceptable.

    I think the ESRB rating system is flawed, you get over it.

  64. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Show me something better, that has no negative connotations, is loved by the government and watchdog organizations, loved and acceptted by all gamers and developers, is easy to understand and teach, has no loop holes and is geared for every possible outcome of content, then I will get over it.

    So far the ESRB fills a good chunk of these requirements. They are not perfect, nor I am trying to imply that, but they are working harder for the game industry than any other group that is trying to rate games.

    If you think they are so bad, why don’t you put your money where your mouth is and start up a new organization to take over. Even if you did start one, I doubt that you would have anywhere close to the support of publishers and developers that the ESRB has.

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    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    If I had money to start one I would. You can doubt me if you wish but most who doubt me usually find it to be a mistake when I prove them otherwise.

    Yea its not perfect and really the problem lies within the ESRB… their employees. Compare the way the MPAA rates movies to the way the ESRB rates games. The ESRB is much more strict. If the ESRB rated movies I’m sure quinten tarentino’s movies would all be AO, so would Saw and Hostle, among many many more. Yet yet were rated R by the MPAA

    The ESRB is strict because they don’t serve the gamer they serve the watch dog organizations that are made by parents that already look after what their children do. The watch dog organizations should not be listened to what so ever. It should be easy to learn and it is but it sohuld not screw over developers and gamers like it does today. You can deny it all you want but there are many gamers and game developers that feel they are being shafted by the ESRB. And they are.

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    Scrubking says:

    When you hear the term “adults only” what comes to mind? Ultra violence or porno? Yeah that’s what I thought.

    The fact is that the AO rating was intended and designed for “adult” AKA pornographic content. That is why consoles don’t support it and most stores don’t carry it.

    So yes, the ESRB is labeling MH2 as a porno, and it’s probably because there are some bare asses or some PG-13 sex scenes. Hot Coffee should have told you that the ESRB considers mild simulated sex that you can see on cable TV to be 18+ and AO. Yes, it’s ridiculous and yes it needs to be changed.

    This is why Manhunt 2 hot a raw deal and why I fear more games will get a raw deal if gamers don’t get off their asses and mass email the powers that be about this glaring problem.

  67. 0
    VaMinion says:


    If you’re talking about the little sisters, they’re not invincible. You can still kill them, you just can’t torture them. And frankly, I’m fine with that; there’s no reason for a game to allow a player to torture kids (hell, I got moral quandries with killing noncombatant kids in games in the first place, but that’s a whole other issue).

  68. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    The trouble is they don’t speak out publically. But they do think that the rating system is flawed. I’m not going to drop names because if they wanted it to be known publically it would be their responsiblity to do so.

    VaMinion – I’ll make a indie game within the next year to prove that there can be a reason to allow a player to tortue children. I’ve actually been planning it out for a couple weeks now but I have a few things in line ahead of it. Trust me, its not what you think but it does have to do with torturing children… in a sense…

  69. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    Developer is the wrong word, how about gamers and game designers. Even though I do think deep down many develop/publishing companies are lying through their teeth when they say they support the ESRB.

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    CyborgPolk says:

    No, the ESRB has stated since the creation of AO that the rating is for very intense violence and/or strong sexual content. Thrill Kill is another game that received the AO rating for violence. AO was not just intended for porn.

  71. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Scrub King

    I doubt there is any sexual content. It just doesn’t fit the image that has been created about the game. So it most likely got AO over the extreme nature of the killings in the games.

  72. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    E. Zachery Knight – Oh yea, I might just be a student but I am still a designer. So… me. I’m at least one designer and I state publically that if I were to release a game into the market it would be disserviced by the ESRB. even though currently I can only make indie games.

  73. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 0 ) says:


    So How do you know they feel this way? Do you know them personally?

    Not trying to be a jerk, just trying to get my point across. Even if there were a few who did feel a disservice, they are out numbered by those who feel the ESRB is doing a great job and wouldn’t change it for the world.

    Personally, I think scrapping the ESRB or any part of it, would be a bad PR move as it would allow the anti game activists to scream, “See. We are right. We told you, they don’t know what they are talking about.”

  74. 0
    E. Zachary Knight ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    @ Tom

    Aren’t we all designers? I am two. I have a whole demo and a buggy flash game under my belt.

    So let’s get more in deapth and include that they must have designed or produced a game that has been rated by the ESRB and still eel a disservice.

  75. 0
    Terrible Tom ( User Karma: -1 ) says:

    As I said before, I’m not going to drop names but I do know designers who have been disserviced by the AO rating from the ESRB.

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